Anel’s top 20 favourite activities to enhance fine motor development

Colouring, drawing, cutting and tracing are all wonderful activities to enhance fine motor skills.  But many young children, especially boys, find these activities boring and often despise having to spend time sitting still at a desk completing worksheets.  There are so many other wonderful and exciting ways in which to enhance fine motor skills!  Try some of these:

  1. Have Dad or Grandpa create a “busy board” out of a square piece of pine or chipboard with locks, latches, bolts, etc on it
  2. Collect all the lace-up shoes in the house and remove the laces.  Now tie them all together in intricate knots and have your child unravel the them and lace the shoes up again.  You can even have a competition to see who can make the longest lace “snake” by tying the ends of the laces together.
  3. Try to find puzzles with very small pieces.  Not only is this good for your child’s fine motor skills, but puzzle building is an excellent way to help develop your child’s visual perceptual skills as well.
  4. Magazine graffiti.  This one is especially popular with boys.  Page through all you old magazines and tear out all the images of people you can find (let you child help – paging and tearing are both great for fine motor control).  Use a fine point pen or permanent marker to “change” the images into those of pirates, witches, beggars etc by colouring in the teeth, adding eye-patches, moustaches, beards, stubble, earrings, warts, etc.  Start off with full page images at first and then move on to smaller images as your child’s fine motor skills improve.  Another version of this activity is to collect images of animals and have your child “change” these into “fantasy creatures” (e.g. adding wings or tiger-like stripes to a horse or “changing” a lizard into a dragon).
  5. Beading can be tons of fun.  Both girls and boys enjoy this activity and there is no limit to the variety of beads that can be bought at beading stores.  You also don’t need to only stick to store-bought beads as macaroni, shells, pop-corn and even some types of cereal can easily be thread onto string.
  6. Invest in a good quality peg board. These usually come with design cards so that your child will not only be enhancing his fine motor skills, but his copying, sequencing, motor planning and early numeracy skills as well.
  7. Play pick-up-sticks or Jenga.
  8. Fold an Origami fortune teller.  Remember these? The ones where you use your thumb and index fingers to control the movements of the four compartments.
  9. Learn to play a musical instrument, piano and guitar lessons are especially beneficial in this regard.
  10. Make “confetti” by punching holes in brightly coloured paper.  You can use the coloured “confetti” later for art activities.  I would suggest, however that you do this activity outside and that you keep a big dustbin or mess sheet handy.
  11. Shred newspaper or pop bubble-wrap.  Little ones find the act of tearing especially difficult as it involves both pinching as well as pulling in opposite directions.  These are both also wonderful activities to help children get rid of pent up frustration.
  12. Bake a cake together. All that measuring, pinching, sprinkling, stirring and whisking will do wonders for your child’s fine motor skills.
  13. Have a competition to see who can pick up the most rice grains in 2 minutes with a pair of tweezers.
  14. Don’t throw away your old keyboard or broken cellphone, add it to the dress-up box or fantasy corner and watch your child pretend to “type” or “dial” on these instruments.
  15. Play games such as darts, marbles, yo-yo’s, spinning tops and “thumb-war”.
  16. Both girls and boys can be taught to knit or do cross-stitch.
  17. Put away the paint brushes and use your fingers to paint.
  18. Buy some syringes from the pharmacy and have your children use these to squirt water onto your pot-plants (or at each other during bath time!)
  19. Paint your own eggs this Easter. Simply make a small hole in the top of the egg and drain the yolk and albumen.  Painting the egg shells require a lot of patience and delicate movements of the hands and fingers.
  20. Create a miniature Zen-garden. Fill an old tray or litter-box with clean, river or beach sand and collect miniature tools (small, toy beach rakes and spades) and tiny rocks and shells to decorate the garden with.